Computational models of brain development in infants with Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction Computational models of brain development in infants with Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction

Recently, there is an increased interest in the use of phenomenological and mechanistic computational models to study brain development. These models are all based on mechanical forces originating from the neurons and represent the two most explored theories on brain development: axonal tension and differential growth. The axonal tension hypothesis (first proposed in [1]) is based on the assumption that axons connecting neurons in WM mechanically pull highly interconnected regions of GM together to form gyri. The differential growth theory (proposed in [2]) is based on a larger growth rate of GM compared to WM, thus leading to mechanical buckling shaping the cortex. Existing computational models of brain development provide contradictory results and leave several questions unanswered. There clearly is a lack of validation of current models against good quality observations and most authors only show visual comparison with un-related data. The main goal of this project is to implement some of the most popular brain development models and test them on real clinical data available at the Maternitat Unit of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, in particular to study abnormal brain development in infants with IUGR, where a contradictory behaviour in brain maturation and sulcification has been observed. This project will be part of an on-going collaboration with researchers at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

[1] Van Essen,DC. (1997). A tension-based theory of morphogenesis and compact wiring in the central nervous system. Nature, 385, 313-318

[2] Richman, et al. (1975). Mechanical model of brain convolutional development. Science, 189, 18-21

Supervisors: Oscar Camara, Mireia Alenyà